Category Archive 'Saul Alinsky'

09 Mar 2012

Not a Failed Presidency


Andrew McCarthy argues that Barack Obama has done a much better job of applying Alinskyite methods and achieving radical ends than is generally recognized.

Alinsky looked down on [Bill Ayers] and the other Weathermen, just as much as he looked down on progressive “moderates.” On goals, Alinsky and Ayers, were on the same page, but Alinsky dismissed him as a clown because Ayers’s methods were counterproductive.

In Alinsky’s view, the only radicalism that had a chance to succeed was the one that could bore inside bourgeois institutions, co-opt the language, and move the mainstream in the radical direction — but only as fast as political conditions would allow. Remaining radical but being coldly pragmatic kept the Alinskyite both effective and viable, allowing him to keep coming back for more. Ayers eventually learned this lesson — the lesson that you can do more for the cause by running the classroom than by blowing up the classroom or occupying the campus. As Ayers himself says, he’s just as radical today as he ever was — he is no moderate progressive. But now he’s actually accomplishing things, affecting thousands of minds. To borrow the words of Van Jones, another radical Leftist turned Alinskyite, he decided “to forgo the cheap satisfaction of the radical pose for the deep satisfaction of radical ends.”

Obama has never shifted. He’s always been the same guy. But he adjusts to the conditions of his environment. He’s not mainstream; he’s about moving the mainstream.

Read the whole thing.

14 Mar 2010

Like Saul Alinsky, Not John Adams

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Neal Katyal celebrates the decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld

Andrew C. McCarthy rebuts misleading editorial claims that certain attorneys now employed by the Department of Justice were “only doing their job” and following the conventional ethical obligations of the Bar in pursuing various kinds of innovative litigation on behalf of War on Terror detainees.

The fictional premise of these wayward complaints is that the Justice Department’s al Qaeda lawyers stand in the same shoes as criminal-defense lawyers. The latter must represent even unsavory characters because the Constitution guarantees counsel to those charged with crimes.

To the contrary, the Justice Department’s al Qaeda lawyers were volunteers, just as Mr. Holder volunteered in the Heller case. Unlike the British soldiers represented by John Adams, the Gitmo detainees are not entitled to counsel. They are not criminal defendants. They are plaintiffs in offensive lawsuits, filed under the rubric of habeas corpus, challenging their detention as war prisoners. The nation is at war, and the detainees are unprivileged alien enemy combatants. By contrast, the United States was not at war with England at the time of the Boston Massacre, and the British soldiers were lawful police, not nonuniformed terrorists.

There is no right to counsel in habeas corpus cases. Thousands of American inmates must represent themselves in such suits—there is no parade of white-shoe law firms at their beck and call. Until 2004, moreover, enemy prisoners were not permitted to challenge their detention at all. The Supreme Court rejected such claims in the 1950 Eisentrager case, precisely because they damage the national war effort. Yes, left-leaning lawyers have convinced the Supreme Court’s liberal bloc to ignore precedent and permit Gitmo habeas petitions. That neither makes these suits less damaging, nor endows the enemy with a right to counsel.

Advocating for the enemy is a modern anomaly, not a proud tradition. Defense lawyers representing accused criminals perform a constitutionally required function. Not so the Department of Justice’s Gitmo volunteers. They represented al Qaeda operatives because they wanted to, not because they had to. The suggestion that they served a vital constitutional function is self-adulating myth. Their motive was to move the law in a particular direction.

Ironically, a number of Republican and conservative lawyers have written editorials and signed letters expressing the same specious analysis that equates the proactive defense of the enemy by the members of the treasonous community of fashion with the conventional acceptance of an assigned duty to provide representation to an unpopular or controversial client. You do not find Mr. Katyal, Mr. Holder, or certain representatives of Shearman & Sterling volunteering to defend the marines charged with murder or the Navy seals who gave the leader of a mob that murdered and mutilated Americans a fat lip.

Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and former Solicitor General Theodore Olson, I suppose, deserve some special appreciation for their highmindedness and inclination to bend over backward in order to refrain from pointing fingers at members of their own profession in the opposing camp, but their insistence on placing the best interpretation on the motives of opponents seems more than a little naive in a world in which the democrat party left endeavors to criminalize policy differences as frequently as possible.

There is the difference between Republicans and democrats, between the American right and the American left in a nutshell. Mukasey and Olson are found hastening to defend Neal Katyal’s efforts to utilize American law for the benefit of those making war against it and the Geneva Convention to protect illegal combatants who routinely flout it, while the left is enthusiastically trying to claim that Bush Administration attorneys deserve prosecution for violations of international law as well as sanctions for professional misconduct.

What we have here is the successful application by the left of Saul Alinsky’s radical technique of “making your opponent obey his own rules” on two levels. Leftwing attorneys have successfully compelled the United States government to accord constitutional protections and the privileges of domestic legal process to armed enemies captured overseas and effectively contrived to have the Supreme Court enforce Article 75 of Protocol I (1977) of the Geneva Convention which the United States never signed. Meanwhile, the left accuses and makes strong efforts to punish Republican attorneys for legal and ethical violations on the basis of ultra-partisan and highly strained interpretations. Yet, prominent Republican legal figures shrink from criticizing, even from accurately identifying, enthusiastic advocacy on behalf of the enemy in time of war as what it really is.

25 Oct 2009

Turning the Tables

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James Lewis has read Saul Alinsky‘s Rules for Radicals, and proposes that Americans apply Alinsky’s tactics for “community organizing” to stopping Barack Obama’s radical leftwing agenda.

According to Alinsky, you want to “pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”

Don’t be deceived by the honeyed baritone voice and big smile. Bluffs, bully plays, and head fakes are the means by which President Obama tries to get his way. He learned the technique from Saul Alinsky.

The best answer is to use Alinsky against them. We know their rule book, and we can use their rules just as well as they can. The aggressor sets the rules.

Obama constantly uses Alinsky’s principle of head-faking: “Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.” For Obama, “the enemy” is us, the American people. We have to understand — that’s the way they use the language. Read Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals if you don’t believe it. We are the enemy.

Obama is head-faking us all the time. He is a big bully. He will use Styrofoam Greek columns, speeches in Berlin, ridiculous Nobel PC Prizes, whatever piece of political opera he thinks he can get away with. You have to remember that Obama always starts out acting a part. Any relationship he has to reality is purely coincidental.

But when he runs into real resistance, as with Putin, Ahmadinejad, or Israel, he backs off. He’s running constant bully plays. He’s like a third-rate basketball player who is just trying to fake out the other to cover up his lack of athletic talent.

Conservatives are firmly based in reality. Liberals start out from fantasy. This president has learned to play out a bully fantasy to sucker his liberal voters in Chicago — but then he runs into a brick wall and gets a bloody nose. Like a professional actor he can also drop the act. He’ll be very hurt and insulted if we believe him for what he is, but that for the next sucker play.

We have to make him drop all the head fakes. The only way is to do that is to firmly resist his head-fake, and to head-fake him back.

08 Apr 2009

“A Jaw Dropping Spectacle”

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Is how Camille Paglia, in Salon, describes Obama’s bow to the “Custodian of the two Holy Mosques.”

Obama bows.

Paglia urges Obama to get himself a Chief of Protocol and learn some manners. And, in impressive defiance of the MSM coverage embargo, she actually comments on Obama’s stonewalling on his birth certificate and education records.

Arriving at the White House, he understandably stayed in his comfort zone by bringing old friends and allies with him — a team that had had a fabulous success in devising the hard-as-nails strategy that toppled the Clintons, like crumbling colossi, into yesterday’s news. But these comrades may not have the practical skills or broad perspective to help Obama govern. Like Shakespeare’s Prince Hal ascending the throne, Obama may have to steel his heart and banish Falstaff and the whole frat-house crew.

Obama’s staffing problems are blatant — from that bleating boy of a treasury secretary to what appears to be a total vacuum where a chief of protocol should be. There has been one needless gaffe after another — from the president’s tacky appearance on a late-night comedy show to the kitsch gifts given to the British prime minister, followed by the sweater-clad first lady’s over-familiarity with the queen and culminating in the jaw-dropping spectacle of a president of the United States bowing to the king of Saudi Arabia. Why was protest about the latter indignity confined to conservatives? The silence of the major media was a disgrace. But I attribute that embarrassing incident not to Obama’s sinister or naive appeasement of the Muslim world but to a simple if costly breakdown in basic command of protocol.

Enough already! These slips are worsening the anti-Obama backlash, which began with the administration’s bungled handling of the grotesquely swollen stimulus package. Conservatives seem deliriously drunk with their cartoon picture of Obama, to whom is glibly attributed every pathology in the book. Yes, there were ambiguities about Obama’s birth certificate that have never been satisfactorily resolved. And the embargo on Obama’s educational records remains troubling. . But I am still waiting for hard evidence about the host of other charges that are continually being hammered against him — from his alleged fidelity to the crypto-tactics of Chicago leftist Saul Alinsky to the questions raised by right-wingers about the production of Obama’s two memoirs. Out of respect for the presidency, conservatives need to put up or shut up about these issues.

I found her “put up or shut up” demands concerning Obama’s assimilation of the political agitation techniques of Chicago radical Saul Alinsky and the theory originated by Jack Cashill that William Ayers might have ghost written Dreams from My Father less impressive.

Mr. Obama does a fine job of supplying proof of his commitment to Saul Alinsky-style agitation, the technique of seeking illegitimate forms of political power through media spectacles of public demonstrations of ressentiment by an aroused canaille manipulated into emotional paroxysms by the flattery of supposititious grievances.

The Obama Administration recently pulled off a very spectacular Alinskian tour de force reducing Congress, the mainstream media, and major portion of the American public to the stature of a howling mob over the manufactured issue of the injustice of AIG paying contractually-specified employee compensation bonuses subsequent to receiving federal bailout monies. When 1/10 of 1 percent of the federal contribution becomes the focus of national attention, and the public has no attention to spare concerning the disposition of the other 99.9%, you know that Saul Alinsky has triumphed.

The public firing of the CEO of General Motors was obviously another Alinsky moment in Obama presidency.

As to the ghost-written memoir theory, I don’t believe it rises to anything closely resembling the level of pertinence of the question of Obama’s Constitutional eligibility for the office he was elected to, or to that of his unsavory radical political background. There is also no real possibility of proving such a thing one way or another. Jack Cashill found several arguments for similarities between DFMF and William Ayers’s own memoir and other writings. Either one finds Mr. Cashill’s arguments persuasive or one does not. I don’t believe it is provable either way.

21 Sep 2008

Obama Loves Misery

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Obama’s bump in the polls derived from the financial market’s meltdown is perfectly in accord with the tradition of radical leftist agitation in which his philosophy and political career are rooted, Bruce Walker explains at American Thinker.

Obama seems happier these days. It is almost as if the disembodied spirit of his mentor, Saul Alinsky, is watching and smiling. Americans are suffering. Losses in the stock market, panic in the financial market, pain at the gas pump and in the grocery — all these miseries of average Americans are a delicious narcotic to socialists like Barack Obama.

What was the historic maxim of the Left? “The worse, the better.” Alinsky said that if there was an afterlife, “I will unreservedly choose to go to hell.” This is the man whose mind guides Obama’s thoughts.

Americans ought to ponder that before electing a man who thrives politically — the sphere of his life that really matter to him — on the unhappiness, helplessness, and hopelessness of his fellow citizens.

Read the whole thing.

09 Jun 2008

Obama’s Fund-Raising Techniques

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Obama defeated Hillary by out-spending her, which he was able to do by raising staggering and stupendous mountains of money. How did he do that?

Kyle-Anne Shiver explains that Obama raised his cash using the organizing techniques of leftist Saul Alinsky with a little help from FaceBook.

During this campaign season, Barack Obama has raised such unprecedented mountains of cash that he has broken every record in the annals of political fundraising. It’s enough to make him appear a veritable money wizard. If his own “high-flying words” are being “deployed in the service of cynical aims,” his contributors don’t seem aware of it, and the cash keeps rolling in. …

But what exactly is in it for them? What is Obama selling to his contributors that causes them to open their wallets and whip out those Visa cards over and over again?

Obama has appropriated one of the most successful ad campaigns in the history of American advertising and revived it for a voting bloc that has probably never heard of it. The old Prudential tagline from the 1950s and 60s, “Own a piece of the rock,” has become “Own a piece of the Movement,” or sometimes “Own a piece of this campaign.”

This sort of clever manipulation was at the heart of Alinsky-style “community organizing” in the interest of revolutionary change. He taught, through his books and seminars for radical acolytes, how to convince the common folks that the organizer was merely their tool, willingly offering his own time and service so that they could succeed in throwing off the yoke of their masters. This, Alinsky taught, would ingratiate the organizer with the ones he needed to organize.

Alinsky showed how Marxism would take over America, not through violence, but by organizing the power of the vote. Power came from two sources in American society, Alinsky believed: Money and people. If one lacks money, one uses people. Different means, same end. In fact, it was Alinsky himself who advised ‘60s radicals to eschew violence for law degrees and politics. Writing Rules for Radicals a year after the intense riots that accompanied the 1968 Democratic National Convention, Alinsky advised patience, persistence, and working within the system:

    Dostoevsky said that taking a new step is what people fear most. Any revolutionary change must be preceded by a passive, affirmative, non-challenging attitude toward change among the mass of our people. They must feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost, so futureless in the prevailing system that they are willing to let go of the past and chance the future. — Rules for Radicals, p. xix

The last 40 years have been merely the prelude, it would seem, to Obama’s candidacy. He’s the man of whom Alinsky and his Marxist acolytes dreamed.

The leftist network within the mainstream media and the various blogs of the 527s has blared a constant message for the past eight years, bashing Bush, Bush’s war, Bush’s economy, Bush’s failures to the people, all to set the stage for the political savior, who has now emerged. The people indeed seem ready for the revolutionary “change” that Alinsky foretold.

If anyone wonders why college campuses are agog with Barack Obama, why the youth are falling all over themselves in their rush to join the movement, one need look no further than to the guru of Facebook, Chris Hughes. Hughes became a full-time member of the campaign early on, and his intimate knowledge of the social network he co-invented has helped Obama accumulate not only all that cash, but more than a million “friends” as well.

Want to get tens of thousands of people to show up at an Obama rally? Go to and tell all your “friends” about it. What may look like magic is just an updated version of: “I’m going. Are you? Everyone who’s anyone will be there.”

Alinsky himself pioneered a non-tech form of this type of manipulation, urging his organizers to use social self-interest as a way to bolster attendance at meetings. But while the Alinsky method involved corralling the most popular community members as leverage, Facebook allows “friends” to connect with “new friends” with the touch of a button, without even having to get out of bed.

For those under 30, Facebook is the high-tech version of the burger joint and the cruising strip of earlier decades, with seemingly limitless possibilities for connecting with other like-minded folks. Using this social network for political power is an Obama first. While Howard Dean used the power of the blogs to temporarily boost his candidacy in 2004, Hughes has created a firestorm of campus support for Obama with a social network that elevates the trivial and encourages the many small contributions that add up to record-breaking numbers.

It’s all in the network; no wizardry here. Just lever-pulling.

Facebook is designed around the shallow and social. Networkers are not “commentators,” as they would be on a blog; they are “friends.” Friends do not need to agree on ideas; they just need to like the same kind of music. Friends do no need to agree on ways to improve society; they just need to like a candidate’s cadence, his body, or his clothes.

As each day of this campaign passes, it becomes more and more like 1968, with the generation gap between young and old emerging as the factor of difference between our candidates. Obama is the Facebook candidate, and he has an awful lot of folks merrily following his yellow brick road. It may lead to the White House, I fear, and Obama may become our very first Wizard in Chief.

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